Hacka Doll app delivers a customized feed of news for each user. The user answers some simple questions when launching the app for the first time, and then the app will filter the news that caters to the user's personal interests. With daily use, the app automatically analyzes and learns which news articles the user reads and recommends to further personalize the feed. The anime personifies the app's customization engine as three "Hacka Dolls" — the personal entertainment AI and main navigator Hacka Doll #1, the anime expert Hacka Doll #2, and the knowledgeable otaku Hacka Doll #3.
Hackadoll is my surprise anime of the season. I picked it up about halfway through expecting it to be a stupid boob comedy based on the moe blob art style and the obvious character archetypes they were shooting for in their three characters: dumb blonde genki girl, big boobs-chan, and sleepy loli girl. However right I was about these characters, I was also very wrong. Hackadoll turned out to be a very entertaining short anime, much in the vein of Comical Psychosomatic Medicine of this past summer season.
Hackadoll's strength is that it picked one anime franchise or a trope and made that the backbone of the joke it told throughout the 7 minute runtime of each episode. They lampooned everything from Neon Genesis Evangelion to Dragonball Z to Shirobako to dating sims and hentai. In fact, nearly every episode makes fun of a different genre or series with the antics of the bumbling, clueless Hackadolls, a trio of AI whose purpose is to "advance" the people who download their app. "Advancing" people typically turns into the Hackadolls screwing up the person who summoned them's life beyond repair, but then by some horrifically humiliating or mortally dangerous event, the person manages to achieve their goal... mostly. It plays out on screen a lot better than it sounds on paper.
Hackadoll's animation is fairly simple traditional style- since it's a web series with probably a negative budget, but blowing the audience away with visuals isn't the point of the show anyway. The three main VA are all relative newcomers (two of them are even younger than I am) and give solid performances as the aforementioned character archetypes, but are backed up by the awesome veteran Ryouka Yuzuki, or LADY SATSUKI KIRYUUIN herself, as the irascible, overbearing boss, Hackadoll 0.
This show was a good way to blow 5 minutes (because a minute and a half of it is the intro song) with some lighthearted, goofy humor and a bit of parody of some series that I love. I'm not sure how much studio Trigger had to do with the production of this show (they're tagged as a producer), but their influences are strong here. It's zany, off the wall; a lot like watching some kids on a sugar high acting crazy. read more
There have been plenty of shorts this year, but almost none of them were as good as this one. At first glance, it doesn't look like anything special, but I was surprised to find how entertained and engrossed I was, despite it only being about 7 minutes long.
I enjoyed each individual story, loved the characters and music, and was really impressed with the different drawing styles introduced during certain scenes. I didn't expect that from a short anime! I also really liked the casual references to other anime.
I'm not sure how well this one would work as a full-length anime, but I really wish there will be a second season. I think it's a fun, entertaining anime with a lot to offer!read more
When it comes to recommending anime comedies, the question that comes to mind is often not what someone's sense of humour is like, but how many other comedies they've already seen. I say this because, though hardly unique to anime, it's a notable feature of anime comedies that they often rely the same set of jokes & observations. This is especially true of what might be considered "otaku" comedies, which when not making show specific parodies often revolve around a small & instantly familiar set of, I suppose, acceptable gags.
Hacka Doll: The Animation is very much in this comedic vein. With some exceptions, Hacka Doll's episodes revolve around the same collection of jokes & setups that every other comedy targeting the otaku audience seems to. That's not to say everything here has been done before, but many episodes have a general sense of deja vu about them that can take one out of the right mood.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Hacka Doll takes place in an alternate Japan where society seems to have declined to such a point that people are now reliant on the phone summoned help of magical girls to deal with their mundane problems (maybe not so alternate after all). The show follows Bubbly, Busty & Bored, three of the titular Hacka Dolls who have a reputation for being singularly incompetent at their job, as they are sent to aid various people with their various problems - with each episode being a standalone story.
One could quickly find themselves dismissing Hacka Doll as relying on jokes that have been done before, because it does. That's not to say there isn't anything new, or at least not too obviously recycled, to keep things from feeling completely derivative. The parody of Shirobako, in particular, was entertaining by virtue of the whole episode being dedicated to it rather than just making an offhand reference.
The use of delinquent character types in some episodes was also nice to see, although it had the unintended effect of reminding me that Cromartie High School came out 13 years ago & things haven't got better. Indeed there's also a random gorilla in Hacka Doll, which makes me wonder if the writers also had Cromartie in mind.
But for every joke that smells fresh, there's 3 that are stale. While those who haven't seen many anime comedies might not have this problem, there's only so many times I can laugh at the same routines done with almost no variation. Hahaha, talking to real girls isn't like in dating sims. Hahaha, fujoshi like BL. Hahaha, Busty Doll's covered in sticky white stuff. Hahaha, Bored Doll's dick fell off. Wait...
The point is that a lot of what's in Hacka Doll has been done, & while seeing old jokes reinterpreted or presented in new ways is one of the fun things about comedy, Hacka Doll is one of those shows which has a sense that the writers feel if something was funny then, you shouldn't change it now. You might hope that some variation comes from seeing new characters take on old scenarios, but Bubbly, Busty & Bored are utterly generic character types that are instantly recognizable from the first moment you see them; nor do they draw any different conclusions or react to things in any way except what you'd expect them to.
Part of the problem, & this is the case with a lot of otaku humour, is that the jokes are otaku-centric but go to pains not to be offensive or too deprecating of otaku themselves. Thus we get the usual cop outs where, for instance, the obsessive idol otaku has some inoffensive jokes made at his expense before ultimately concluding that his excessive level of support is something that the recipient is & should be grateful for. I'm not saying comedy needs to be edgy, but a bit of self-deprecation or acknowledgement that you can laugh at the peculiarities & strangeness within ones own culture or social group without having to add the "but it's okay to do that, please don't be offended" disclaimer would be nice.
On the technical front, Hacka Doll is a pretty competent show. The characters look decent, the animation is limited but not awful, the music is okay for what it is & generally it's a standard production for a short. There is one noticeable cost cutting trick they do that does detract from the experience, though. At least once in each episode, the director seems to have chosen to do a digital zoom to get a closeup of a character's face, rather than drawing a new cut to achieve the same goal.
This wouldn't be a problem, except the raw images used were evidently not of a high enough resolution to avoid that blurry & rather ugly effect you get when you enlarge a low resolution image. Also, because Hacka Doll has songs that it's trying to sell, we're also treated to the same dance routines that, as always, use the same Miku Miku Dance movements you see in every other lower budget show with idols. Three cheers for original choreography.
Ultimately Hacka Doll is an okay-ish short comedy where your enjoyment is most likely going to be based on two things: 1) do you like otaku humour? & 2) have you seen other anime comedies? It's a pretty safe & standard show that doesn't do anything to make it noteworthy, but at the same time is not completely reliant on recycled jokes from other, better shows.
Maybe it's in part because Hacka Doll was made to promote, of all things, a mobile news aggregating app that the producers wanted to play it safe & avoid, I suppose, tarnishing their brand with any of the target audience. Personally I'd have thought soaking your mascot in spunk-substitute would do more to harm your image than making some more original jokes. But I'm not a Japanese marketer, so what do I know. read more
This is my first review, so if I say anything weird, I apologise.
While Hacka Doll was a bit bad in certain places, it still had good animation and made you laugh at certain parodies or certain funny moments. As a guy who watches almost everything, this anime was something you could just sit back and enjoy the various situations that happen. If you want a breath of fresh air from all those heavy action anime, and you want to laugh, even for a small bit, this anime is for you. Otherwise, you should find something better if this anime does not keep up with your expectations.read more